An associate degree is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study intended to usually last two years or more. It is considered to be a higher level of education than a high school diploma or GED. The first associate degrees were awarded in the UK (where they are[when?] no longer awarded) in 1873 before spreading to the US in 1898. In the United States, the associate degree may allow transfer into the third year of a bachelor's degree. Associate degrees have since been introduced in a small number of other countries.